Finance Secretary Paul Chan says he can identify with the hardships facing the city’s low-income families, and urges them to remain optimistic.

Chan invited 40 low-income residents from the working-class town of Tin Shui Wai to his government residence in Deep Water Bay last Saturday, where he promised the authorities will continue tackling housing and poverty issues. He also cited his childhood growing up in poverty in an attempt to inspire children at the event.

paul chan
Families invited to Paul Chan’s government residence. Photo: FS gov’t blog.

“When I was young, my family was very poor. I lived in a squatter settlement in western Tai Hang, where we were frequently affected by fire and storms. We even lost our home,” he wrote in his official blog on Sunday.

“I especially used my own experience to advise the children present: as long as they work hard, equip themselves, persist and remain hopeful about the future, they will reach their goals one day,” he said.

“I know what it feels like to be going through financial hardships that low-income residents face.”

The finance chief said he also visited an elderly home in Wan Chai last Thursday.

paul chan children
Families invited to Paul Chan’s government residence. Photo: FS Gov’t blog.


Chan replaced John Tsang as finance chief in January and earns around HK$319,000 per month. He only has three months remaining in his current term, but decided to move into the government’s Deep Water Bay mansion nonetheless.

He came under fire after saying that he plans to spend HK$830,000 in public funds to renovate the mansion. Of that amount, HK$40,000 will be spent on replacing carpets and HK$160,000 on replacing furniture and installations.

Chan also courted controversy when heading the Development Bureau between 2012 and January. He was the alleged owner of agricultural land through his wife and son in the Northeast New Territories, which he proposed developing into a new urban area.

In 2012, local media alleged that his wife bought subdivided flats in 1994 through a company. Chan later admitted having knowledge of the property hosting “several tenants” at the time of purchase.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.